A Word About Wisdom

This week in my devotional time I read a lot of verses that talk about wisdom. Take a look”

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5

“Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.” Proverbs 8:33

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20

“Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.” Proverbs 9:9

I also looked a bit into the story of Esther. If you remember her story (there’s a whole book of the Bible written about it), as a young Jewish girl she’s drafted into possibly becoming queen of Persia, she actually does become queen, she saves her people (the Jews) from massacre because she pleads with the king and reveals the villain, and ends up living happily ever after. One of the supporting characters in the story is Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, who helps her with knowledge about the impending massacre. But the story reveals that Mordecai sharing knowledge with the King goes back further than the main story of the Book of Esther about the planned massacre, to a time when Mordecai revealed that there was an assassination plan targeting the king (Esther 2:21-23). The king is saved and the story apparently goes on. But some time later (in the middle of the story about the planned massacre) the king had trouble sleeping so he read back through the logs that were kept of the goings on in the kingdom and was reminded of this assassination attempt and he asked an important question about what was done to reward him for his dedicated service (Esther 6). It turned out that nothing had been done, so the king followed up and rewarded Mordecai.

I share all of these verses and this story from Esther for several reasons. First, there’s no reason whatsoever to ever think or assume you know everything. Everyone forgets things and everyone can only remember or know or be exposed to so much. It’s one of the reasons the internet is so powerful and such an important tool for our lives today. Second, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help or a second opinion. Since we’ve already established we don’t know everything, it follows that someone else certainly knows something you don’t and you can tap into their knowledge. Third, keep learning! I keep notes about lots of stuff because I want to make sure I take care of things or to remember things, and as we saw with the story of Mordecai and the king, notes of those kind can make sure that you’re following through on the important things in your life, as well as to keep a record for those who come after you.

One final thought: wisdom only does good if you do something with it. It’s important to keep learning and to connect with others, but only if you’re going to do something with that knowledge because there are people out there in the world who could greatly benefit from what you know. For example imagine learning all you can about cancer and never doing anything with that knowledge, it sounds silly, right? Whether you do more learning or sharing this week doesn’t matter, what does matter is that you’re taking time to both learn and contribute your wisdom to the world.

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Personal (Purim) Victories

Today the Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. Purim is an interesting spiritual celebration, because it’s one of the few that the story behind it crosses more than the usual spiritual lines (to all who read the Old Testament in the Bible). In case you forget, it’s the story of Esther, and how she becomes queen and is able to plead to the king to save her life and the life of her people (the Jews). If you haven’t read it [lately], I’d encourage you to check it out here.

Before you head off because you think this might be a spiritual post, no, I’m not actually planning to talk about Purim or the story of Esther. Because while it is a faith-based story, the story is one that many of us can identify with and is really a hero/heroine story that countless people read each day. One with true love, respect, victory, the defeat of a villain, and a happily ever after. It’s also a rags to riches story, and one that shows more bravery in a few short chapters than most of us will ever show in our entire lives.

So if this isn’t a spiritual post, what is it? It’s a reminder to myself and you that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can get lucky. Anyone can totally transform their life from the bottom to a much better life. Anyone can find the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can make the world a better place. Anyone can be a leader. Anyone can work to create a happy ending.

If the future is that bright, why are people struggling? Some struggle because they don’t find the courage to try. Some refuse the help others are offering. Some get paralyzed by all the options and can’t pick one. Some don’t believe in themselves. Some don’t get out there and look for answers or do the work to get there.

What about you? How does your future look and what are you doing to make it better?

Victories Yesterday and Today

Today ends the celebration of the Jewish holiday Purim. It’s technically an event that’s celebrated by multiple religions, including Christians, but for the Jews it’s a very important holiday. Purim is the celebration of the defeat of Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews. God, Mordecai and Esther intervened and saved the day, and I would encourage you to take time to read the whole story, it’s only 10 chapters long and more of a story than anything, in the book of Esther. Typically in the middle of the week I blog about victories, and the story of Esther is certainly a story of victories. There’s some trial and tribulation, as there is with just about every victory, but ultimately the bad guy loses and there’s a happy ending.

This is a big victory for Moredecai, Esther and the Jews. Many times you hear about the struggles that the Jewish people have gone through and don’t hear about the victories they’ve had, especially since they don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah that they’re waiting for and Jerusalem has been a hotly contested location for a very long time. But the events surrounding Purim are a very real and tangible opportunity for them (and us) to celebrate, it’s a good day any time a people group isn’t persecuted or massacred. For Esther especially it’s a victory for her personally, for women and for Jewish women because she took the opportunity God presented to her, stood up for what she believed, prepared and presented the situation to the King (her husband), and got all that she asked for.

Something else to consider is that Purim is really a remembrance celebration. I was thinking recently about the balance that it’s necessary to find in remembering the past and moving forward. Each year we celebrate the day that we were born, after all we would not be here if it was not for that day. There’s value in celebrating the recent victories as well as the victories from the past, as long as the focus on celebrating past victories don’t hold you back from celebrating future ones.

So what are you celebrating today, either from years ago or today that recently happened?

The Purim Journey

This past week was the celebration of Purim in Jewish communities around the world.  It’s a celebration that anyone who has read the Christian Bible is familiar with as well because the story is told in the book of Esther.  The story is noteworthy for many reasons, but it all boils down to a queen (a woman) stepping up for her people (Jews) and stopping an evil plot that would have been one of the earlier examples of genocide. Because of her bravery she has been remembered throughout the spiritual histories of both Christians and Jews.

This story of deliverance is an excellent example of the way that one person can step up and do something great for many people.  Esther took a big risk by pleading for not only her life but the life of her people before the king.  While most of us are not in the position of great power and responsibility that she was, we can still learn from her courage and her story.

Royalty in that day and age wasn’t always a by-birth thing.  Esther grew up a normal girl who got picked to be queen, she didn’t know her life would take that turn.  We don’t know where the journey we’re on will take us. We can make some educated guesses based on the decisions we’re making and things we see showing up in our lives.  Most of us do have the power to change that path if we’re not happy with it or if we want something different/better/else. If an ordinary girl can become queen, I have to believe that the options for the rest of us are just about endless.  What will you choose to do with your future?

Royal Faith

Last week Monday we talked about Peter, and the faith he had to get out of the boat with Jesus.  Today we’re taking a look at Esther, an average woman who was made Queen of Persia, and had to take a big step of faith.

In a nutshell, Esther was a young girl taken into the harem of Xerxes, and he chose her to be his new queen.  Then the challenges started: Esther was Jewish and Haman plotted to get a royal decree to allow a slaughter of the Jews because of jealousy and hatred against a Jewish man, so she would die too.  Esther prayed and fasted and went to Xerxes (knowing she could be killed on the spot) and asked for him to rescue her people.  He ultimately gave the Jews the power to defend themselves and Haman was killed. You can read the whole story here.

Why is Esther’s story an important one to look at when talking about faith?

First, having faith does bring results. Esther was put in the position as queen by God to be the saving grace to her people. Esther (and the Jewish community) fasted and prayed about the situation and God helped them get favor with Xerxes.

Second, faith meant that Esther had a community praying for her interaction with the King.  She knew she had a responsibility to the people because she was part of their faith community.  It also meant that she wasn’t going into this alone, but that she had support whether she succeeded or not.

Finally, faith doesn’t mean perfect answers. I’m sure that Esther and the Jews wanted the law to be eliminated, but that’s not how it works.  But, they were given the right to defend themselves, which was almost as good.

Faith isn’t about getting it exactly right, for Esther, it was about effort and community.  I’d love to hear about your faith community, share your thoughts and experiences below.

Purim: A Story of Deliverance

This week we celebrate Purim, at least those of us who are Jewish do.  It’s a holiday to commemorate the freedom of the Hebrew people from their enemy, Haman.  You can read the whole story in the book of Esther.  But the story of deliverance is one that we’re all familiar with.

We’ve all had the experience of being stuck, trapped, up against a wall without a defense or up a creek without a paddle.  Maybe we’ve been “Esther” and stepped up in our own defense to free us.  Maybe someone else spoke up for us and helped us out.  Whatever the case, do you remember how it felt to be delivered?

Like a breath of fresh air after being stuck in a basement, deliverance makes us all consider the future and think about what we’re going to do different with our lives.  It’s when we realize that life is precious and can end at any minute.

What do you need to be delivered from today?  Maybe it’s a relationship, food addiction, bad habit, or depressing job.  Esther didn’t give up and neither should you.  Help is just an email, tweet, post or phone call away.  And if you’re not comfortable talking with someone in your life, I’d love to listen.